I'm not a patient person. Traffic snarls send up my blood pressure. Delays rankle. This impatience shows itself in my writing too. The most recent example concerns the long list of deadlines for submission that I gave myself in the last year.
My zeal to submit meant I had to finish a half dozen or so stories in the meager amount of writing time I had. Any time not spent polishing a story or sending it out felt like time wasted. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make all my available writing time productive. And I had a fairly narrow definition of what that included.
Until I got to Dorland. On my writing retreat, when I had oodles of time to read, contemplate and try new things, I rediscovered some of the joy of writing and stoked my creative furnace. Okay, my goal to finish two or three stories from my collection and submit them never materialized. In fact, I didn't send out a single submission.
I haven't sent out a submission since the retreat either. The impatient side of me hates this. "You can only get published if you submit," my inner critic reminds me. True, but I also will only get published when the work merits publication.
When I got back from Dorland, I tucked away my long list of submission deadlines in a drawer. Then I started playing with my stories.
Rather than being all business about cleaning up a story, I've started doing exercises to approach the story from a different angle and open up the work. I took a story I love, called "The Architecture of Disaster," and wrote content that will not be added to the story in order to slow down the process of polishing and get a better "feel" for the work.
One drawback of this new playfulness is that I don't have any finished stories to submit this summer. However, my creativity has exploded. I've completed two first drafts of short stories and a first draft of what could be a novella or novel.
I encourage you to take a timeout from the pressure of "producing" and incorporate some playfulness in your writing. Whether you take a week or a month, allow yourself to try new things, to shake off the inner critic and loosen up. I think you'll find, as I did, that your creativity soars.
Once my mentorship begins in the fall, I'll go back to working on the book and polishing those stories. But I hope my playful pursuits will reap benefits over the months and years ahead as I learn to cultivate some patience in discovering the true essence of a story.
A writer's journey